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This is actually a good point.

A friend of mine is from Ghana, and wanted to be a programmer. He had to build a battery bank to power his laptop, so he could do his exams without issue.

I helped him design the bank, and another little tool we found helpful.

Because power is such an issue, we used a couple Arduinos to build something reminiscent of the TRS-80, 200 [0]. Instead of BASIC though, we inbuilt a C-repl, based around Cling [1], though much less featured. It ran off 4 AA batteries, and lasted about six hours between charges, which though kinda crap, was enough that his power bank was always ready to recharge it, and he could keep going. It was all his idea, I just served as the technical expert.

I believe he's currently building and selling a few of these out of his house since he went back to Ghana, to help people get a hang of computing.

[0] http://oldcomputers.net/trs200.html

[1] https://root.cern.ch/cling

So you also built a low power computer much like the kits in the 80s? That's really cool!

Why use C as a starting language?

Because his exam was in C, basically.

He was doing remote study with an Australian course, which required it. For the Python parts he still had to use his normal laptop, because MicroPython wasn't around then, (and I took a look at porting CPython to an AVR and immediately gave up), and he hated it.

Constant power glitches caused the laptop to misbehave.

His BW-1 (Borkwei-1), and it's tiny portable power, meant he got a lot more done.

If I was to redo it today, because it was about 6 years ago now, I'd probably make one with either MicroPython or eLua. Basically hook a keyboard and screen up to a NodeMCU or MicroPython board (maybe an ESP32), because those sort just about everything out nowadays. (MicroPython even comes with a FAT filesystem. Add a board with WiFi, and you have a very decent system.)

He tells me that every house in his village has one of the little laptops we designed now, though he has upgraded it to use an SD card, so more programs, and WiFi for when they hit town. He now calls it the BW-2.

You don't need batteries, you just learn to save your files often. I live in the third world too and can say that even with crappy power supplies computers resist quite well blackouts and brownouts.

Probably good for linux, but with Windows you have to be careful during update time or you can easily soft-brick your machine with a power outage.

People just don't update windows.

That made me remember having to update the BIOS firmware and doing it at 3AM and on a night without wind when there was almost no chance of power going out.

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